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Showing posts from September, 2013

Questions

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Yahweh, who will sojourn in Your tent, who will dwell on Your holy mountain?  Psalm 15:1
The Psalmist is searching for answers to important questions: what is the meaning and purpose of life?  What does a God-centered life look like, feel like, smell like?  And what does it mean to worship God?  That is the question above.  To journey with God in a tent is a reference to Moses and the People of God wandering in the wilderness for forty years.  During that time Moses held a capital campaign and people made offerings to make a tent or tabernacle for holding the 10 Commandments.  Later on Solomon constructed a temple in Jerusalem on a hill.  Isaiah would eventually envision people from all places streaming to the holy mountain of God.
Often the Psalmist will ask a question and then in the following verses provide answers.  Some suggest this might have even been used in the Temple liturgy with the Priest asking the question and the people of God responding with the words/answers found in …

Are the Psalms Prophetic?

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Falsehood every person speaks...smooth talk, with two hearts they speakPsalm 12:3
Even though I have read the psalms in several settings over the years, I don't know that I caught onto just how concerned the Psalmist is with justice.  Psalm 12 describes people who speechify with a golden tongue, only to turn around and plunder, trample on the poor.  In many ways, the poetry of the Psalms echo the cries of the prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos and Micah.  The call of the prophets is not only about an envisioned future God will usher in at some point, but for us to act faithfully today even when people speak falsehood with a smooth tongue and divided hearts.  I turn on the news and hear people with smooth talk and a smile argue that people who are the fringes of society do not need help, that they can pull themselves up with their own bootstraps.  Yet, Scripture, and especially the Psalms, have always called us to see those hanging on by a thread as people we need to reach out to…

Stars - Psalm 8

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When I see Your heavens...the moon and the stars You fixed them.  What is man/woman that You should pay attention?Psalm 8
Autumn is coming where I live.  Which means not only cooler, crisp air, but also less light.  Or to be more specific, less sunlight.  I woke up the other morning to go for a jog and realized even though it was warm outside, it was still dark.  I looked up and saw the stars glimmering and glistening early in the morning.  It was beautiful.
The stars have fascinated humanity for years.  They keep watch in the midst of the night.  The tiny amount of light they shower down upon us gives us hope that after the darkness, dawn will come.  And the sheer multitude of stars, even though they look so small, still have the power to make us feel insignificant.
I wonder if the Psalmist wrote Psalm 8 at night or early in the morning before dawn?  I wonder if she saw the stars, tried to count them, realized it was futile, and then asked that wonderful question, "Why in the wo…

Re-group

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Recently I was leaving the house taking the kids somewhere.  We were three blocks away, when we suddenly realized we'd forgot something vital to where we were going.  So, we turned around and went back home.  The details of where we were and what we forgot are not really as important as the truth that practically everyone I know can tell a similar story.  
You are on the way to work and you forgot your lunch. You are on the way to a birthday party and forgot the present You are on the way to football practice and your intelligent son only has one shoe on.
These things happen to us all the time...or at least some of the things above happen all the time :)
In the midst of the journey of life and faith, U-turns happen.
I feel that way as I have not only been reading the Psalms each day, but also I have been reading about the Psalms.  Reading other people's perspectives on the psalms helps ground me and guide me as I wade my way through these ancient poems and hymns that speak ho…

Psalm 6

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I’m no good to you dead, am I?     I can’t sing in your choir if I’m buried in some tomb!  Psalm 6 ~ The Message
When reading the psalms, you quickly get the impression that the world is not right.  The psalmist will not stand idly by or indulge in self-denial.  And because that is usually what we've been taught to do, the psalms can rub us the wrong way.  I was taught growing up to not make a scene and often times given the implicit message that complaining does no good.  It was okay to grumble and grouse for a few moments in polite company, but if you carried on too long you would not win friends and influence people.  So, push down the grief, don't throw yourself a pity party, pick yourself up and use some cliche like, "Well, life is not easy."  As though the act of saying those compact cliches would in some strange way easy the pain. 
It rarely did...or does.
Rather, what often happens is it pushes the pain down to another time.  As the frustration of a situatio…

Psalm 4

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When I call, give me answers. God, take my side!  Click here to read all Psalm 4
There is honesty in the psalms that I truly find refreshing.  The very first verse of Psalm 4 says something I have thought so often, but rarely have the courage and chutzpah to say aloud actually to God.  In moments of prayer, we long for answers.  In moments of prayer, we want God to say, "You know, Wes, you are absolutely right.  You are brilliant!"  (Sometimes God's imaginary answers are almost embarrassing.)
But more often than not, I don't get immediate answers, emails, or texts from God with simple solutions to my prayers.  It takes time...waiting...patience.  Hence, why I want to join with the psalmists and say, "Please God, just give me an answer...and if it is not too much trouble...um...take my side."
If you read the rest of the Psalm you will see that the hymn/prayer/poetry of the psalm goes on to recall how previously, in the past, the psalmist was in a jam (betwee…